Monday, January 21, 2013

Pizza Crust

Yesterday I had the biggest craving for pizza.  After spending an hour trying to call my local pizza joint (I kid you not) and not getting through, I gave up and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which did NOTHING in satisfying my craving.  Today, I took matters in my own hands and decided that if I was going to eat pizza, I was going to have to make it myself, since obviously no one wants to answer my cry for help.

Enter one of my favorite Martha Stewart cookbooks - Favorite Comfort Food, which was printed in 1999. Like most of Martha's recipes, nothing is very basic or easy.  "Proper" pizza dough was going to take about 2 hours to prepare!  I thought to myself..."Self?  You have the day off.  Just do it so you can go to bed with a smile on your face.  Feed to your belly and move on!"

Things you don't need, which are included in the recipe:
  • A pizza wheel - just use a knife
  • A pizza stone - a cookie sheet works just fine
  • A pizza peel - where the FUCK to you store THAT thing?!  Come on Martha!!!
So, although this is Martha's recipe...I have simplified it for the average home cook.  You still will need 2 hours though, so be prepared.


(This recipe makes dough for two 12 inch round pizzas or one large square pizza.)

1/4 tsp sugar
1 package of dry yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp olive oil, plus more for oiling your bowl
pizza toppings of your choice

Pour water into a small bowl.  Sprinkle in sugar and yeast and whisk with a fork to dissolve.  Set aside for 5 minutes while yeast activates or "blooms."  Mixture will become slightly foamy.

Meanwhile, mix together flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add olive oil and yeast mixture and combine with your hands, adding more flour if needed, until dough is smooth when squeezed.  Transfer to a clean surface and knead for about a minute, then shape into a ball. 

Oil a large bowl and place your dough ball, smooth side up.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, until dough doubles in size.  Remove wrap and punch down with your fist.  Knead for another minute and once again, place dough ball smooth side up and return to let rise a second time, for about 30 minutes until it again doubles in size.

This is when my stomach started to growl.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Punch down the dough for the second time in preparation for the third rise.  Place dough on a clean, flat surface and let rest for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, sprinkle your cooking surface with cornmeal in preparation for your crust!  If making two pizzas, divide your dough in half.*

Using your fists, knuckles and fingers, gently stretch your dough to the size of your cooking surface.  Top your pizza as you wish - I used leftover boneless hot chicken wings, onions, peppers and pepperoni.  And, maybe extra cheese as well.  Bake for 12-18 minutes, let cool and enjoy.

*If you plan on baking only one 12 inch round pizza, wrap up your remaining dough and freeze.  Thaw completely before using. 

This dough had a great chewy crust and baked evenly in my oven, without turning - - but if you have hot spots, you may want to turn once during baking.  This crust has sparked an interest in having a homemade pizza party with my friends and the next time I have a couple hours of free time, I'm making a couple of batches of this dough and freezing it for future uses!